Assessing The Education And Social Capital Sociology

essay A+

Get Full Essay

Get access to this section to get all the help you need with your essay and educational goals.

Get Access

Robert Putnam in Bowling Alone ( Putnam 2000 ) cites an vague rural pedagogue, Lyda J Hanifan, as the first usage of the term “ societal capital ” in an 1916 essay about the development of schools as community Centres. Putnam ‘s family tree has become the canonical one, cited in much of the subsequent literature, but in a recent article, conceptual historian James Farr has shown the restrictions of Putnam ‘s research ( Farr 2004 ) . Farr demonstrates that the term “ societal capital ” was in much wider usage in the period, significantly by John Dewey who was a leader in the motion of which Hanifan was a portion. Farr surmises that Hanifan drew the term from Dewey ‘s work. As good, he traces other utilizations of the term, including by Marx, and another modern-day sense of the term in relation to corporate ownership of belongings, and the corporate net income from labor. Farr ‘s geographic expedition of the history of the construct adds significantly to our apprehension of societal capital, as it shows that the concurrence of societal benefit and economic linguistic communication was more widespread earlier than attributed by other theoreticians, every bit good as puting Dewey ‘s critical pragmatism into the household tree of the construct.

The inspiring theoretician of these motions was John Dewey, who was himself extensively involved in some of them. Dewey himself used the term ( see quote p 10 ) and his conceptual model and linguistic communication drew upon and developed the thought of work together making common bonds ( of understanding and cooperation ) which were a resource for people in communities. Farr draws out three of import points about Dewey ‘s usage of societal capital: foremost, that unfavorable judgment must be balanced with building, 2nd, the importance of understanding, 3rd, the combination of “ societal ” and “ capital ” for rhetorical consequence. Dewey focussed on the relationship of school and society, and the possible part of instruction to enable instead than shackle societal capital. Balancing unfavorable judgment and building is at the bosom of critical pragmatism – ( p10 ) crisis gives rise to critical contemplation which creates thoughts to steer action to turn to the crisis. Sympathy “ entailed the ordinary sense of experiencing concern or compassion for others, particularly those denied or deprived life ‘s necessities, including societal capital ” , but besides the capacity of imaginativeness that allows people to associate to and appreciate commonalties with others in different fortunes ( p11 ) .

In schools – “ aĖ†Ā¦.each single gets an chance to get away from the restrictions of the societal group in which he was born, and come into contact with a broader environment. ” ( Democracy and Education, 1916, p20 ) ( See besides JS Mill ) – Prefigures treatment of Bonding and Bridging societal capital.

Farr shows Dewey ‘s usage of economic nomenclature as a “ terminological scheme ” of critical pragmatism ( 12 ) , mentioning other illustrations like that of “ fresh endowment ” as “ otiose capital ” .

The Dewey/ Hanifan usage of “ societal capital ” is really close to Putnam ‘s, idealizing as it does peculiar signifiers of societal interaction and community life, the interaction between establishments ( of instruction and of administration ) with citizens both separately and jointly, and the possible re-shaping of these establishments to run into corporate demands.

I will plane over the “ in-between period ” of societal capital ‘s development. Between the 1920s and 1980s the term was used by miscellaneous sociologists and others – notably Glen Loury and Jane Jacobs ( Jacobs 1964 ) . None of these authors had a peculiar involvement in instruction. Another of import development in the period nevertheless was the development and increased currency of the term “ human capital ” . Gary Becker is credited with developing the theory of outgos on instruction, preparation, wellness etc as investings in human capital, with a logic of returns similar to that of physical capital. ( Becker 1964 ) . This was an of import precursor to the work of Coleman in peculiar.

2. Coleman and Bourdieu

The two major strands of idea on societal capital were developed in the late eightiess, by sociologists of instruction Pierre Bourdieu and James Coleman. Bourdieu ‘s most elaborate treatment of societal capital appeared in his 1986 essay “ The Forms of Capital ” which was translated by Richard Nice and published in an English linguistic communication anthology ( Bourdieu 1986 ) .Coleman ‘s article, “ Social capital in the creative activity of human capital ” , was published three old ages subsequently in the American Journal of Sociology ( Coleman 1989 ) . Although they co-organised a conference in 1989 in Chicago and co-edited its proceedings ( Bourdieu and Coleman 1991 ) , the development of the two constructs has happened independently and without mention to the work of the other. Indeed, a dramatic facet of the literature is how comprehensively the two strands have ignored each other, peculiarly to the disregard of Bourdieu ( All right 2001 ; Field 2003 ) . The consequence of this is that the Coleman tradition constitutes the largest portion of the societal capital literature since the 1990s, mostly because of Coleman ‘s influence on Robert Putnam but besides because of the go oning influence of Coleman ‘s original surveies, as discussed below. Although Field ( Field 2003 ) categorises Putnam ‘s work as a 3rd strand to that of Bourdieu and Coleman, I would reason that Putnam follows on straight from Coleman in his concerns with neighbourhood influences and voluntary associations, every bit good as his conflation of the beginnings and benefits of societal capital.


Bourdieu ‘s and Coleman ‘s definitions of societal capital are similar in that they both emphasise the functional value of societal dealingss as resources available to agents. In Bourdieu ‘s words:

“ Social capital is the sum of the existent or possible resources which are linked to ownership of a lasting web of more or less institutionalised relationships of common familiarity and acknowledgment – or in other words – to rank in a group – which provides each of its members with the backup of the collectivity-owned capital, a “ certificate ” which entitles them to recognition, in the assorted senses of the word. ” ( Bourdieu 1986 )

Similarly, Coleman defines societal capital as connexions – “ societal capital inheres in the construction of dealingss between and among histrions ” ( p98 ) – and its usage value:

Social capital is defined by its map. It is non a individual entity but a assortment of different entities, with two elements in common: they all consist of some facet of societal constructions, and they facilitate certain actions of histrions – whether personal or corporate histrions – within the construction. ( p 98 ) . ( Coleman 1989 )

Later loops ( for illustration Woolcock, OECD, Foley and Edwards ) have sharpened these definitions, separating more clearly webs and the norms which create reciprocality as the two elements of societal capital. Portes has emphasised the demand to divide rank of a web or group as the beginning of societal capital and the benefits which may be gained from this rank ( Portes 1998 ) . Traveling one measure further, Foley and Edwards offer the expression “ Social capital is best conceived as entree ( webs ) plus resources. ” ( ( Foley and Edwards 1999 ) p 166 ) . Putnam argues for the inclusion of trust – societal capital as webs, norms and trust. ( Putnam 2000 ) , but Woolcock prefers an even sharper definition, specifying trust as a merchandise instead than a constitutent portion of societal capital ( Woolcock 1998 ) .


Both Coleman and Bourdieu have an instrumentalist position of societal capital as a resource, built-in in societal relationships, which can be used by persons and institutional agents to assorted terminals. Both see societal capital as interacting with and transactable for other signifiers of capital, although this Bourdieu elaborates the kineticss of this interaction in far more item.

Coleman is peculiarly concerned with the interaction between societal capital and human capital, although he acknowledges that these minutess may be limited: “ like physical capital and human capital, societal capital is non wholly fungible but may be specific to certain activities. A given signifier of societal capital that is valuable in easing certain actions may be useless or even harmful for others. ” ( p 98 ) . Coleman shows that societal capital is non merely a belongings of the elite, and to some degree compensate for the deficiency of other signifiers of capital.

Coleman uses the model of rational action, although “ without the premise of atomistic elements stripped of societal relationships ” ( Coleman 1989 ) . His position of societal capital emphasises the importance of web closing ( ie that your friends know your other friends, and in peculiar that you are friends with parents of your kids ‘s classmates ) . Coleman identifies three cardinal facets of societal capital: duties and outlooks ( which depend on the trustiness of the societal environment ) , the information-flow capableness of the societal construction, and the presence of norms accompanied by countenances. The authoritative illustration he offers is that of diamond bargainers in New York, where a dense web enables the operation of corporate norms and effectual countenances so that the market operates with a high grade of trust. Thus the context of relationships creates inducements and countenances which guide single rational behavior.

In contrast to Bourdieu ‘s involvement in category groupings, Coleman is concerned chiefly with the household and vicinity. For Coleman it is the presence of effectual norms and countenances within the immediate household that is most of import for educational attainment. He emphasises the function of female parents in peculiar in furthering this environment. Coleman argues for a distinction between “ aboriginal ” – “ societal organisation that has its beginnings in the relationships established by childbearing ” ( p 1 ) – and “ constructed ” societal constructions – those which are constructed for either a individual intent or a narrow scope of intents ” ( p 3 ) ( Bourdieu and Coleman 1991 ) . Unsurprisingly, Coleman ‘s work has been capable to feminist reviews ( eg Morrow ) reasoning that his position of the household is extremely patriarchal. Other critics have questioned Coleman ‘s valorisation at near ( adhering ) ties instead than weak ( bridging ) ties ( Portes, Stanton-Salazar ) .

In Bourdieu ‘s scheme, societal capital interacts with economic and cultural capital. In fact, societal capital is a less of import facet of Bourdieu ‘s theory of societal construction than cultural capital. In Bourdieu ‘s footings, histrions compete for capital within “ Fieldss ” of activity. Complex societies are composed of a figure of Fieldss, each with their ain specific logic ( Bourdieu and Wacquant 1992 ) . Although some Fieldss may hold laterality ( eg the economic field in capitalist economic systems ) ( p 109 ) and the State has a function in modulating the operation of all Fieldss, they are ne’er wholly reducible to one moral force ( p 97 ) . These Fieldss are constellations of relationships in which places are defined by the distribution of capital in different signifiers across the histrions ( single or institutional ) in a field ( Bourdieu and Wacquant 1992 ) . Some histrions have more capital and so are dominant over those with less ; others may hold equal but different composings of capital at their disposal which puts them in a different relationship to other histrions and the field itself. The histrion ‘s place is historically determined: that stock of capital has been accumulated or reduced over clip through exchanges which are shaped by the bing relationships and by the “ regulations of the game ” – the comparative value of different signifiers of capital and the ability to change over capital from one type to another.

Differences: bureau, boundaries

The cardinal differences between Bourdieu ‘s and Coleman ‘s construct of societal capital root mostly from their philosophical stances. Bourdieu emphasises entree to institutional resources ; Coleman emphasises norms ( Dika and Singh 2002 ) . As outlined above, Bourdieu conceptualises societal capital as operating in a societal field which is hierarchically structured. Like other signifiers of capital, societal capital is held disproportionately by elites. The inclination is for the bing power dealingss to reproduce themselves ; there is small sense in Bourdieu that the bing construction can be challenged ( Jenkins 1992 )

An interesting difference between the two is the extent to which development of societal capital is a deliberate scheme ( Baron, Field et al. 2001 ) . Coleman sees societal capital as a by merchandise “ a mostly unwilled procedure ” ( Baron, Field et al. 2001 ) p 7 ) , as persons are chiefly concerned with progressing their ain involvements. He gives the illustration of a female parent returning to work, and as a consequence releasing her active function in school activities. Even though the action is rational in relation to her ain and her household ‘s involvements, it causes a net loss of societal capital for the other households associated with the school.

Bourdieu sees “ an eternal attempt at establishment ” – “ the web of relationships is the merchandise of investing schemes, single or corporate, consciously or unconsciously aimed at set uping or reproducing societal relationships that are straight useable in the short or long term ” . ( Bourdieu 1986 ) 249. Bourdieu emphasises the non-conscious facets of the transmittal of cultural capital – that kids in cultural capital-rich environments tend to absorb the advantages unwittingly. He sees the instruction system as about the transmittal of cultural capital – scrutinies etc are “ corporate thaumaturgy ” doing cultural capital seeable and validated. He argues that the instruction system increases in importance when societal hierarchies based on descent are challenged.

Bourdieu is extremely critical of rational action theory ( RAT ) , the tradition of which Coleman is a portion, although Jenkins argues that some of the accusals Bourdieu makes can be turned back on him ( Jenkins 1992 ) . Bourdieu argues that RAT substitutes an arbitrary rationality/ involvement for a culturally/ historically located one. In so making, RAT substitutes its analytical theoretical account for world and locates the moral force of societal life in “ pure ” single and witting decision-making instead than in the person and corporate histories that generate societal world. This prevents a theoretical apprehensiveness of dealingss between persons and between persons and their environment. ( Jenkins 1992 ) However, Jenkins argues that in wholly rejecting RAT Bourdieu creates a job for his theory, because he denies that witting decision-making does hold a function – people do organize programs and seek to implement them. ( Jenkins 1992 )

Jenkins is slightly unjust – Bourdieu ‘s theory of involvement is more sophisticated than that.

Similarly, Bourdieu is leery of consistent groupings, underscoring how groups gate-keep and exclude, whatever the internal benefits to those on the interior.

This is cardinal difference between the two – Coleman wants more societal capital ; Bourdieu inquiries what kind and for whom.

3. How “ societal capital ” has been taken up in the educational literature

Baron, Field and Schuller offer a tripartite typology of how societal capital has been used in the literature: analysis, prescription, and heuristic ( Baron, Field et al. 2001 ) . I will utilize this model to analyze the recent literature on societal capital and instruction, pulling in peculiar on Dika and Singh ‘s first-class study of journal articles on instruction and societal capital in the period 1990 to 2001 ( Dika and Singh 2002 ) .


A big sum of the societal capital and instruction literature has been devoted to mostly re-running Coleman ‘s surveies ( Dika and Singh ) . There has been peculiar involvement in different migratory populations in the USA. Like Coleman ‘s original work, these surveies have used big US datasets non originally designed to capture societal capital facets. The indexs used by Coleman are: ( within household ) parents ‘ presence, figure of siblings, female parent ‘s outlook for kid ‘s instruction and ( outside household ) figure of moves ( placeholder for intergenerational closing ) . Coleman ‘s work on the differential public presentation of pupils in Catholic and other spiritual schools has besides been replicated ( Coleman 1989 ; Coleman 1990 ) . Equally late as two months ago the Catholic Education Office in Victoria has published similar work on the comparative effectivity of Catholic schools ( Sheehan 2004 ) .

In contrast to Coleman ‘s focal point on “ adhering ” societal capital, Stanton-Salazar and Dornbusch studied educational attainment and societal capital sing pupils ‘ ain societal webs and their “ bridging ” entree to information-related support including personal advice about academic determinations, future educational and occupational programs and entree to legal, wellness and employment services ( Stanton-Salazar and Dornbusch 1995 ) . They found a more complex image, in which bilingualism and associated cultural capital was a cardinal factor in pupils ‘ entree to beginnings of information and to institutional resources ( p132 ) Grades were positively related to three different informational web variables: figure of school-based weak ties, figure of non-kin weak ties, and proportion of non-Mexican origin members. Dika and Singh point to the work of Stanton-Salazar and Dornbusch as an illustration of how Bourdieu ‘s theory of societal reproduction and the interplay between cultural and societal capital can be used to light institutional facets of societal capital formation ( Dika and Singh 2002 ) .


Social capital is a construct of great involvement to policymakers – even being described as the “ missing nexus ” ( Grootaert and Van Bastelaer 2002 ) – and it has been enthusiastically embraced by administrations like the World Bank and the OECD. The usage of societal capital in policy development, peculiarly by the World Bank has been trenchantly criticised ( All right 2001 ; Harriss 2002 ) . Some similar Field have warned that societal capital can merely move as agencies to leverage existing resources, non make new 1s ( Field 2003 ) . Despite this, Harriss argues that societal capital theory has led to a programmatic accent on local development and “ self-help ” :

“ even though this sometimes looks instead similar anticipating the most deprived people to draw themselves up by their ain boot straps, in a manner which is unusually convenient for those who wish to implement large-scale public outgo cuts. ” ( Harriss 2002 ) .

There has non been a similar strenous reaction against the policy prescriptions of the OECD in societal capital and instruction. There is a significant OECD literature on societal capital and human capital, notably from the Quebec symposium of 2000 ( Helliwell 2001 ) . This literature is stimulated by the thought that instruction is one of the few intercession points for the creative activity of societal capital ( Schuller 2001 ) . This tradition follows really much in the footfalls of Dewey and Hanifan, recommending instruction as a cardinal facet of societal reclamation. School as an intercession point – but hazard of overburdening schools ( Pamela Munn p 181 ) .


Social capital has been seized on as a manner of reinstating different signifiers of instruction into the argument, in peculiar continuing, grownup, informal and vocational instruction ( Winch 2000 ; Balatti and Falk 2001 ; Kearns 2004 ) . For illustration, in a reappraisal of Christopher Winch ‘s book on vocational instruction and societal capital, Richard Barrett writes that Winch achieves his purpose of doing vocational instruction a topic to be “ given its merited earnestness by philosophers of instruction ” through his statements about the civic facets of vocational readying ( Barrett 2004 ) . Schuller et Al ‘s synthesis of their longitudinal research on the benefits of larning includes both “ taught ” and “ non-taught ” acquisition ( Schuller 2004 ) .

There have been fewer surveies of the institutional deductions of societal capital. Barry Golding ‘s work on webs in ACE is an exclusion ( Golding? ) , as is Persell & A ; Wenglinsky ‘s survey of the civic battle of pupils at different types of colleges ( mention ) . Barry Golding has examined the value of utilizing web function in big instruction and larning community scenes to gestate discontinuities in relationships between communities and administrations in a peculiar part ( Golding? ) . Persell and Weglinsky found that type of establishment attended had an impact on civic battle, with pupils go toing for-profits less likely to vote or take part in political procedures than community college pupils.

4. Directions for farther probe

Taking the definition of societal capital as webs and norms, clearly instruction has a function in the creative activity of both. The relationships formed at school and through other signifiers of instruction are of import for immediate societal support and for associating to institutional resources. At the same clip, the educational procedure signifiers political orientation, wonts, behaviors and theoretical accounts of cooperation and struggle.

I would propose a figure of waies for farther probe of the relationship between instruction and societal capital.

Further geographic expedition of Dewey ‘s work and its relationship to societal capital, in peculiar Bourdieu. There is an interesting nexus between Bourdieu and Dewey. ( Possibly besides tracking back to Durkheim ) .

Extension to other sectors of instruction. Bourdieu has written extensively on universities eg ( Bourdieu and Collier 1988 ) , but this work is imploring to be updated in light the sensed “ crisis ” in the higher instruction field.

More range for Bourdieuvian analysis utilizing field theory- possibly taking the lead from media surveies in sing the boundaries between Fieldss and meta-capital.

Questioning of the dark side of societal capital in instruction – concentrate off from the “ jobs ” of deficiency of societal capital to the jobs associated with excessively much of it in the incorrect custodies. Related to this, the thought of sympathy – common apprehension ( taking up Farr ‘s suggestion )

More probe of institutional belongingss which help/hinder societal capital.

My involvement: widening bourdieu ‘s work by looking at the interplay of cultural capital and societal capital in the field of higher instruction, and the potency for HE to make links and gaps to other Fieldss – “ bridging ” instead than “ adhering ” societal capital.

This is where we return to the current twenty-four hours Lyda Hanifans seeking to refashion instruction to function societal terminals.

Balatti, J. and I. Falk ( 2001 ) . Socioeconomic Contributions of Adult Learning to Community: A societal capital position. Wider Benefits of Learning: Understanding and supervising the effects of grownup acquisition, Lisbon, Portugal, European Society for Research on the Education of Adults ( ESREA ) .

Baron, S. , J. Field, et Al. ( 2001 ) . Social capital: critical positions. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Barrett, R. ( 2004 ) . “ A reappraisal of Christopher Winch, 2000, Education, work and societal capital: towards a new construct of vocational instruction, London: Routledge. ” Studies in Philosophy and Education 23 ( 23 ) : 61-71.

Becker, G. S. ( 1964 ) . Human capital ; a theoretical and empirical analysis, with particular mention to instruction. New York, , National Bureau of Economic Research ; distributed by Columbia University Press.

Bourdieu, P. ( 1986 ) . Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of instruction, Greenwood Press.

Bourdieu, P. and J. S. Coleman ( 1991 ) . Social theory for a changing society. Boulder

New York, Westview Press ;

Russell Sage Foundation.

Bourdieu, P. and P. Collier ( 1988 ) . Homo academicus. Cambridge, Polity Press in association with Basil Blackwell.

Bourdieu, P. and L. J. D. Wacquant ( 1992 ) . An invitation to reflexive sociology. Chicago, University of Chicago Press.

Coleman, J. ( 1989 ) . “ Social capital in the creative activity of human capital. ” American Journal of Sociology 94 ( Supplement ) : S95-S120.

Coleman, J. S. ( 1990 ) . Equality and accomplishment in instruction. Boulder, Westview Press.

Dika, S. L. and K. Singh ( 2002 ) . “ Applications of societal capital in educational literature: a critical synthesis. ” Review of Educational Research 72 ( 1 ) : 31-60.

Farr, J. ( 2004 ) . “ Social Capital: A Conceptual History. ” Political Theory 32 ( 1 ) : 6-33.

Field, J. ( 2003 ) . Social capital. London, Routledge.

Fine, B. ( 2001 ) . Social capital versus societal theory: political economic system and societal scientific discipline at the bend of the millenium. London, Routledge.

Foley, M. W. and B. Edwards ( 1999 ) . “ Is it clip to divest in societal capital? ” Journal of Public Policy 19 ( 2 ) : 141 ( 33 ) .

Golding, B. ( ? ) . “ The pertinence of webs to Australian grownup and vocational acquisition research. ”

Grootaert, C. and T. Van Bastelaer ( 2002 ) . The function of societal capital in development: an empirical appraisal. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Harriss, J. ( 2002 ) . Depoliticizing development: the World Bank and societal capital. London, Anthem.

Helliwell, J. F. ( 2001 ) . The Contribution of Human and Social Capital to Sustained Economic Growth and Well-Being, Quebec, Canada, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ( OECD )

Human Resources Development Canada ( HRDC ) .

Jacobs, J. ( 1964 ) . The decease and life of great American metropoliss. Harmondsworth, Penguin in association with Cape.

Jenkins, R. ( 1992 ) . Pierre Bourdieu. London ; New York, Routledge.

Kearns, P. ( 2004 ) . VET and societal capital: A paper on the part of the VET sector to societal capital in communities. Adelaide, National Centre for Vocational Education Research: 45.

Sublime portes, A. ( 1998 ) . Social capital: its beginnings and applications in modern sociology, Annual reviews Inc. 24: 1-24.

Putnam, R. D. ( 2000 ) . Bowling entirely: the prostration and resurgence of American community. New York, Simon & A ; Schuster.

Schuller, T. ( 2001 ) . The Complementary Roles of Human and Social Capital. J. F. Helliwell.

Schuller, T. ( 2004 ) . The benefits of acquisition: the impact of instruction on wellness, household life, and societal capital. New York, NY, RoutledgeFalmer.

Sheehan, P. ( 2004 ) . The part of Catholic schools to the Victorian economic system and community: a study to the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria. Melbourne, Catholic Education Commission of Victoria: 72.

Stanton-Salazar, R. D. and S. M. Dornbusch ( 1995 ) . “ Social capital and the reproduction of inequality: information webs among Mexican-origin high school pupils. ” Sociology of Education 68 ( 2 ) : 116-135.

Winch, C. ( 2000 ) . Education, Work and Social Capital: Towards a New Conception of Vocational Education, Routledge.

Woolcock, M. ( 1998 ) . “ Social Capital and Economic Development: Toward a Theoretical Synthesis and Policy Framework. ” Theory and Society 27 ( 2 ) : 151-208.

Get instant access to
all materials

Become a Member